View Full Version : Pulling into the slow lane.

Uncle Dick
04-06-2008, 10:18 AM
Dear Friends,

I want to take my camera - the World's Rattiest Nagaoka - with its Beck Symmetrical lens - to living history events to record the reenactors in somewhat period style, but without the complexities of wet-plate or daguerrotype. I want to adapt a modern material to the 4x5 double dark holders I already have - the negatives do not have to be processed in the field.

So far the only options I have found locally have been Ilford FP4 sheet film or Ilford Multigrade IV paper. The former is too fast for a lenscap shutter and the latter restricts me to contact prints.

Can anyone point me to a transparent sheet film with an ISO low enough to permit hand exposures at f.32 in open shade? Australian sun is pretty fierce but I still want to avoid having to put the lens on a shutter. Many thanks.

Uncle Dick

04-06-2008, 10:36 AM
You might try stacking some neutral density filters behind the lens so they don't show and use any convenient medium speed film.

Thomas Bertilsson
04-06-2008, 10:56 AM
Paper negs with the Ilford MGIV? ISO 10 or so. Like the idea of ND filters. Will slow you down up to 4 stops depending on filter grade.
- Thomas

Uncle Dick
04-06-2008, 11:20 AM
Dear Friends,

By Golly I knew this forum was worthwhile - a big Thank You to Gary Beasley for jogging my little grey cells. The idea of ND filters behind the lens is good - but they would make the GG screen so dark that my old eyes would have trouble seeing to focus. The Beck Symmetrical only opens up to f.6 or so.

But what if I could see at FULL illumination and the film could see many stops darker....each film is enclosed in one side of a double dark slide. Nestled in a slot and locked in by the end cap. Suppose I cut a piece of transparent material into a 4 x5 shape and stacked it on top of the film. Perhaps an evenly-exposed sheet of film developed to a dark filter. Perhaps a dark blue sheet of cellophane to replicate the exposure characteristics of some old films. Perhaps a red sheet for dramatic effects.

Each sheet with its own ND filter. If the filter is dark enough the lenscap could come off for 1-2 seconds. I might even be able to use a head-clamp on the portrait subjects! Any optical aberrations in the cellophane would contribute to the historic look.

Does anyone know if the slot of a standard Lisco double dark would hold 2 sheets of film?

Uncle Dick

04-06-2008, 12:00 PM
Another option is Ultrafine Continuous Tone Dupe film, EI about 6, ortho response, .007 thickness, 100 sheets for about $85 or so from www.ultrafineonline.com


04-06-2008, 12:35 PM
You could probably get your hands on some of the old stock of Kodak ortho copy film, I still have some myself I got off Ebay and is still good.

04-06-2008, 12:41 PM
A couple of blue filters will not only lengthen exposure, but with a pancro film should give you the "look" of the old, blue-sensitive "ordinary" emulsions of days gone by.

John, Mount Vernon, Virginia USA

04-06-2008, 01:01 PM
Arista Lith (ortho) film from Freestyle. Cheapest sheet film there is (50 sheets cut to fit 4X5 holders for 12.99). You can handle it under a red safelight. I shoot it at iso 5 and develop in Rodinal 1:150. You can develop it by inspection (usually around 7 min at 68F) with the red safelight on. Sunny 16 at 1/4 sec is the same as 1 sec. at f32. You should be able to get a pretty reliable 1 sec "by lenscap" with a little practice. Who needs neutral density filters?
I shoot this film in 4X5 in my speed graphics and 2X3 in my Century Graphic. It's great stuff for a slow film. Sharp as a tack and damn near grainless.


04-06-2008, 02:41 PM
Rick is right, Uncle Dick.

I use Russian TASMA copying film, since that is what I have. One second at f:32, or four at f:64.

04-06-2008, 03:01 PM
Possibilities for the gent from Perth.

Put some ND in front of the lens with a pivotted or hinged mount so you can swing it out of the way to focus. Or cobble together a slip on mount for same.

Use a speed losing developer - Caffenol / Folgernol etc to lose a few stops of speed. The "special" image quality might be an asset for reinactment photography.

Use a color negative film or the C41 BW and just massively overexpose. I have tried to everexpose color negatives so much that film was almost unprintable, and gave up since color negative film's latitude seems near boundless. The lab just seemed to be able to print from anything. I stopped trying to find the point of failure since it was cruelty to the lab to keep extending the experiment.

Can you push the aperture lever past the last marked stop? If so, test to see what stop it gives you. Might be useful to get you into workable speed territory.

By the way - greetings from New Hampshire! I've missed the "Wisdom of Uncle Dick".